Bloggers’ advice to PRs
|18/06/2012||Posted by Chris Lee under Blog, Blogging|
Last summer I wrote a post about blogger relations best practice and following a really interesting Comms Chat last Monday I thought it was time to revisit the subject from the blogger’s perspective. (By the way, PR people can still give their opinion on bloggers via this quick survey – I’ll be balancing this issue out).
I didn’t manage to get the magic 100 responses I wanted to give some kind of gravitas to the survey so there’ll be no stats here, but I am grateful to the 23 bloggers who took time to answer the final question about what their advice to PRs would be when they approach bloggers. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming consensus is:
- Familiarise yourself with the blog
- Personalise your approach
- Be relevant
- Engage bloggers more often
The common complaints are the ones which common sense should have put a lance through a long time ago but surprisingly still exist, such as addressing bloggers as “Dear blogger…” or “Hi there” and spamming them with press releases. As PR practitioners we’ve probably all just rolled our eyeballs at the above but it’s clearly still happening. Executives and senior executives who tend to do the media and blogger outreach to understand the importance of personalising the approach. Bloggers are arguably more inclined than journalists to call out bad PRs on Twitter or in their own posts. I have so far resisted this on my own blogs, The Guest Ale (beer) and The Eudaimoniac (travel), but if I myself were not a PR I may not be so restrained (karma etc…)
Here are some of the best pieces of advice from bloggers on how PRs should approach them. Thanks again to all who took part and PRs, please take part in the What PRs think of bloggers survey.
- Please take five minutes to skim read a couple of posts and my “about me” page to see if I am a good fit for your campaign. It will save us both a lot of time in the long run.
- Be friendly and honest and make sure you know what my blog is about
- Make it easy for me to turn your pitch into a post. A locked PDF will commercial bragging is no help at all.
- Keep it relevant. I’m often pitched on topics I’ve never covered and have no interest in whatsoever. It’s not hard to find me on Twitter and get a sense of what I’m interested in, or to see what I’ve previously written. And then if I say no, don’t get offended or ignore and keep sending me releases. I’ll always reply and say I’m not interested but cover x, y and z – that’s a good cue to ensuring you send stuff that’s relevant to me.
- Be realistic – if it’s not appealing to you then it won’t be appealing to me.
- It’s back to basics. Read the blog and show understanding of the subject matter – AND the blogger/s: their personality; the tone or humour they impart into their blogs; their personal bias or passionate standpoints on issues they see as important. It’s all there on the blog which betrays far more about its author/s than any newspaper has ever, or will ever do. A blog may be more niche than the mainstream press. It will almost certainly be driven by a slightly more idiosyncratic, possibly personal agenda. Ignoring that puts you onto a complete non-starter, even more so than showing ignorance of what can be the broad brush, shifting agenda on mainstream media. A blog’s output will also be less prolific in terms of volume. The blogger may be managing a day job, they may only post once or twice per day. As such they don’t need filler or fluff. Too many PR people turn to blogs when all else has failed. It’s so obvious. That means rubbish appointment releases or product launches that the mainstream media wouldn’t touch. Worse still, the offer of entirely unrelated contributed ‘guest posts’ purely because a blog has a good audience. They have a good audience because they stick rigidly to a focus area and wear their heart on their sleeve. There’s no point offering to damage that relationship with their readers for them. Treating blogs like low-hanging fruit is very counter-intuitive. I suspect the thought process is ‘let’s get some blog coverage and then talk up the importance of the blog to the client’, when ironically many of these blogs are probably far more plugged in to their clients’ audience than some of the broad media who have been prioritised. There are politics, media, cookery, technology, foodie and sport blogs out there whose relevant readerships would stand comparison with the comparable sections of mainstream newspapers. Blogs may have smaller readerships but the good ones, addressing a niche or a specialism almost certainly have a very well informed, discerning readership which connects with a higher end of the audience spectrum. They won’t – or shouldn’t – want to pass on rubbish. If anything, they’re probably a little more likely to name and shame the worst excesses of untargeted or clumsy PR.
- Be friendly and professional. I used to be a BDM and if I initiated contact, I wanted that company to feel like it was the solution to my problem. Even when I spoke to 10 companies a day. You may only know us as bloggers, but we have many trades and experience under our belt.
- Be nice. We are not here to work for you for free. Show respect.
- Do more blogger outreach! We’re out there writing about your clients’ categories!